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Analysis: US hot-rolled steel coil lead times extend; plate stays in slump

US mill lead times for hot-rolled coil extended again Wednesday, showing notable gains following domestic price increases, while mill lead times for plate were mired in a slump.

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The average US mill lead time for HRC increased by 0.6 week to 5.1 weeks, according to S&P Global Platts data.

Lead times have jumped the past two weeks following an influx of larger-tonnage orders finalized around $40/st price increases by domestic mills at the end of June. The average HRC lead time was now beyond five weeks for the first time since the start of April.

"We are done on HRC for August," said one mini-mill source. Order entry remained strong with spot activity still "pretty good" even with the higher prices, according to the source.

Plate mills in the US were still struggling to find orders, keeping average lead times depressed. The average lead time for as-rolled plate was down 0.1 week to 2.7 weeks, marking the third week averaging under three.

"Half the mills are quoting late July, while the other half are quoting early to mid-August," said one plate service center source. But it is possible to get orders within a week depending on specifications, he added.

Mill lead times for cold-rolled and hot-dip galvanized coil were less positive after jumping last week.

Average CRC lead times were down 0.6 week to 5.2 weeks, but still past five weeks at the end of June. The average HDG lead time was down 0.4 week to 6.3 weeks, but still beyond the 5.8 weeks at the end of June.

-- Michael Fitzgerald, michael.fitzgerald@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Valarie Jackson, newsdesk@spglobal.com